We are barely into 2021 and already the world has changed so much this year.
The events in the U.S. are frightening and show how fragile democracy is - even the world’s oldest modern democracy. While the headlines cover the dramatic events as they unfold, the best analysis that I have read on how a democracy could come to such a situation can be read here.
In Ontario, the worst-case projections show that we could have up to 40,000 COVID-19 cases a day by February. Even more modest projections show that the course we are on will soon overwhelm the ability of our hospitals to treat COVID-19 cases. Ontario’s Government has not managed this pandemic effectively thus far, so the unfortunate reality is that we need to take more restrictive measures to save lives while we wait for the vaccines to be rolled out. A summary of the new restrictions under this second State of Emergency are below.
Several actions necessary for controlling the spread of COVID-19 were left out of the new emergency measures - more supports for long-term care homes, paid sick leave, an eviction ban and supports for small businesses.
Last week, the inquiry into long-term care homes heard that two long-term care workers in Ottawa inadvertently transmitted COVID-19 to a shelter where they were staying because their income couldn’t cover rent. This revelation, coming on the heels of the damning report on long-term care by the Armed Forces last summer and decades of similar reports, speaks to the need for radical reform of the long-term care system in Ontario. As of January 12th, there have been 3,027 deaths in long-term care settings linked to COVID-19.
Learn about the NDP’s plan for a new, public and non-profit system here.
The NDP, the Toronto Board of Health and Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health have told the Ontario government that paid sick days are an essential component of stopping the spread as workers need to be able to stay home while they are ill without fearing that they may be evicted.
Over the past two months, the Landlord and Tenant Board has conducted an eviction blitz, with hearings that lasted as little as 60 seconds. Over the holidays, the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association reports there is usually a moratorium on evictions, but this year, evictions continued through the holidays. The evictions are worsening the homelessness crisis and, in the midst of this global pandemic, are putting people on the street who need to stay home. Direct rent relief is needed to prevent further evictions as well as supports and resources for those who have already been evicted.
Although we are a long way from the finish line, the Public Health Agency of Canada expects to have enough doses on hand next year to vaccinate every Canadian that wants a shot by the end of September.
Groups and individuals have come together to support each other through this pandemic. #covidkindness and #communitycare are trending on social media. But if we are truly in this together, the Ford government needs to do its part to make sure that people and businesses have the support they need to get through while we wait for the vaccine rollout.
As always, it is an honour to serve you,
Ontario's Second State of Emergency (Summary)
- Province declares second State of Emergency
- Government issuing stay-at-home order effective Thursday, January 14 at 12:01 a.m. with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work
- Enforcement will be stepped up
- Inspection blitz at big box stores
- All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, will not be allowed to open earlier than 7 a.m. or close after 8 p.m. Stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and restaurants open for takeout or delivery will be exempted.
- Outdoor public gatherings and social gatherings of more than five people will be prohibited. Previously, up to 10 people were allowed to gather outdoors.
- Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
- Schools in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Hamilton and Windsor-Essex will not return to in person instruction until at least Feb. 10.
- The Chief Medical Officer of Health will advise the Ministry of Education by Jan. 20 on which public health units elsewhere in southern Ontario will be allowed to resume in-person learning the following week.
- Students in Grades 1-3 will now be required to wear masks. Masks will also be required outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained. The province is also expanding screening protocols and targeted testing at schools.
- Child care centres for non-school aged children will remain open.
- Child care remains suspended for school-aged children in areas where in-person learning is on hold, with the exception of emergency centres for the children of essential workers.
- Each person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that any person who performs work for the business or organization conducts their work remotely except where the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace.
- The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development will conduct a workplace inspection blitz with a particular focus on areas of high transmission, including break rooms.
- If an employee becomes infected with COVID-19, they may be entitled to federally funded paid sick leave of up to $500 a week for two weeks. Workers can also access Canada's Recovery Caregiver Benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks if they are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care.
- The province will provide up to 300,000 rapid COVID-19 tests per week to key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain and food processing, as well as additional tests for schools and long-term care homes.
- The province is now recommending that residents wear masks outdoors when they can’t maintain two metres of physical distance.
- Students in Grades 1-3 will now be required to wear masks.
Ontario health officials have said that without significant reduction in contacts our health care system will be overwhelmed. New modelling data suggests that the daily COVID-19 mortality rate in the province can double from 50 deaths per day to about 100 deaths per day between mid-January and the end of February. According to the projections, with just one 1% case growth, there will be 500 COVID-19 patients in intensive care by mid-January and with 3% case growth, ICU admissions would exceed 1,000 in less than one month.
Community Gardens Grants
Scotts Canada is offering Gro for good grants valued at $2,500 (cash plus in-kind product donation) and will be awarded to selected projects across Canada based on community impact, youth involvement and sustainability. The applicants will need to demonstrate one or more of the following benefits to the community: addressing health and wellness needs, enhancing the environment and/or engaging with youth. The submission deadline for applications is February 28, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Questions can be directed to [email protected].
Construction & Road Closures
Investigative drilling work on Queen Street West at Peter Street begins January 5
To advance design concepts and other structural plans for the Ontario Line, Metrolinx will be using small drill rigs to gather information and evaluate underground conditions. Work is scheduled to start January 5, 2021 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. Weekly site visits will be conducted for at least three months once investigative drilling work activities are completed.
- During construction hours, some lane reductions may be required, and some traffic delays are expected.
- A paid duty police officer will be on-site for traffic control during field activities.
- Work equipment may be left on-site until work is completed.
- Residents and businesses near the work site can expect to hear noise caused by a drill rig, trucks and other construction equipment related to this work.
Investigative drilling work adjacent to the rail corridor near Corktown Common begins January 11
To advance design concepts and other structural plans for the Ontario Line, Metrolinx will be using small drill rigs to gather information and evaluate underground conditions. Work is scheduled to start January 11, 2021 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, and last for up to four weeks. Weekly site visits will be conducted for at least three months once investigative drilling work activities are completed.
- Residents and businesses near the work site can expect to hear noise caused by a drill rig, trucks and other construction equipment related to this work. Periodic hammering noise can also be expected that lasts about two minutes and occurs every half an hour during work hours.
- Work equipment may be left on-site until work is completed.
- Pedestrian access will remain unimpeded.
Ongoing construction along Union Station rail corridor
This work will take place from January 2021 to February 2021, overnight from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
- Trough and Conduit construction will take place.
- Retaining Wall construction from Spadina Avenue to York Street.
- Bungalow Foundation construction from Spadina Avenue to York Street.
- Cable containment from Bathurst Street to York Street.
If you have any questions or concerns, please email [email protected] or call 416-202-6911.